Last night, Fox News’ Sean Hannity discussed a recent attack on a transgender woman at a Maryland McDonald’s who was brutally beaten by another woman for trying to use the women’s bathroom. Hannity used the beating to argue against hate crimes legislation:
HANNITY: I don’t care why they did it. They should get the full punishment, which should be severe for any conduct like that. Forget about what their thoughts at the time or what motivated them…Does it really matter—let’s say the beating is for whatever reason is one because this woman may or may not be transgender. It doesn’t matter. This is an act of violence against a human being. So what does it matter what their motivation is, their thought process is. They are guilty of the crime. We don’t need to start figuring out what is in their head.
HAYES: They are guilty of an assault, clearly. You have different kinds of assaultive behavior. So the question is—is this something that’s based on their gender, their race, their sexual orientation, whatever it is. […]
HANNITY: I’m saying all acts of violence by definition are hateful. Punish people appropriately for the hideous crimes in both cases —
HAYES: That would be a misdemeanor in New York.
HANNITY: I wouldn’t call that – that’s no misdemeanor.
HAYES: This goes on in our schools —
Hate crimes laws go after violent crimes, not thoughts. In fact, the law Congress passed in 2009 specifically stipulates that “evidence of expression or associations of the defendant may not be introduced as substantive evidence at trial, unless the evidence specifically relates to that offense.”
That law — which added sexual orientation and gender identity to the protected groups to an existing 1968 hate crimes law — allowed local governments to receive needed resources from the federal government for investigations and prosecutions for bias-motivated crimes that don’t just target people for who they are, but seek to intimidate entire communities of people.
More than thirty states already have hate crime legislation that includes anti-gay crimes, but “attempts to protect transgender people have foundered in the Maryland legislature.” Earlier this month, the state legislature “rejected an anti-discrimination measure that would have prevented employers, creditors and housing providers from discriminating against transgender people.”